49ers defense: Player-by-player review


49ers defense: Player-by-player review

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
The good news is that the 49ers' starters on Friday night held New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees without a first down on three series to open the game.

RECAP: 49ers bullied by Saints 24-3 in exhibition debut
The 49ers got some good showings from several players battling for jobs on defense, including outside linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith. Those two players are fighting for starting roles against Parys Haralson, who has been a starter since 2007.The depth on the defensive line looked good with Ricky Jean Francois, Will Tukuafu and Demarcus Dobbs playing well. Also, undrafted rookies Ian Williams and Sealver Siliga handled nose tackle well in the second half.Here's a player-by-player glance at the 49ers' defense from the team's 24-3 loss to the Saints in the exhibition opener for both teams:

Defensive linemen (9)
61-Sealver Siliga: Entered at NT for the second series of the third quarter. Showed some good athleticism to get outside the numbers to make a tackle of TE Tory Humphrey for a 5-yard gain for his only tackle of the game.
63-Will Tukuafu: Entered the game at RDE in place of Justin Smith on the fourth defensive series of the game. The next series, he shifted to LDE. . . . Was not credited with any tackles, but still made an impact. . . RT Zach Strief was called for a holding penalty against Tukuafu. . . . He got good pressure on Daniel to lead to incomplete pass late in first half.
64-Ian Williams: Opened the second half at NT, as he took over for Ricky Jean Francois. He split time at nose tackle in the second half with Siliga, and recorded three tackles. (Follow on Twitter @IWilliams95)
71-Brian Bulcke: Entered game at LDE in the middle of the third quarter. He was credited with two tackles. . . . Got his hands on RB Chris Taylor at the line of scrimmage but couldn't bring him down on his TD run.
78-Demarcus Dobbs: Entered the game at RDE in the middle of the second quarter, and recorded four tackles in the game. . . . . Pushed the pocket against G Matt Tennant to force QB Chase Daniel to scramble for no gain. . . . Working against LG Brian de la Puente, he got good pressure on the QB while de la Puente was called for holding. . . . Later, de la Puente moved him off the ball as Taylor scored on a 4-yard run.
90-Isaac Sopoaga: Has not practiced during training camp due to a hamstring strain. He made trip to New Orleans with his teammates, but did not suit up for the game.
91-Ray McDonald: Started at LDE and played very well. He got tremendous push against RG Jahri Evans to disrupt Brees into third-down incompletion on second series. . . . Stacked up his side pretty well in the run game.
94-Justin Smith: Started at RDE and played the first nine snaps of the game (three Saints three-and-outs). He fended off LG Carl Nicks to stop Pierre Thomas for a 1-yard gain on Saints' first offensive play. He finished with two tackles.
95-Ricky Jean Francois: Started at NT and played the entire first half. He was credited with two tackles and did a good job of stacking up the middle in the run game. . . He was credited with two tackles. (Follow on Twitter @Freakyjean95)Linebackers (14)
47-Monte Simmons: Entered the game at ROLB for the final five minutes of the game. Did not make any tackles.
50-Kenny Rowe: Saw all of his action on special teams. . . Broke through to block a punt, but the play was nullified as the 49ers had too many men on the field.
51-Blake Costanzo: Did not play any defense, but was around the ball a couple times on special teams.
52-Patrick Willis: Started at MLB and played the first nine snaps of the game but did not get in on any action. (Follow on Twitter @PatrickWillis52)
53-NaVorro Bowman: Started at ILB, alongside Willis, and was credited with three tackles. He added another stop on special teams. . . . Called for a late hit out of bounds on scrambling Saints QB Chase Daniel. . . . Had good pass coverage on a couple plays to keep completion yards to a minimum. (Follow on Twitter @NBowman53)
54-Larry Grant: Entered the game, replacing Willis, for the fourth defensive series of the game. . . . Came up to make open-field tackle on Mark Ingram for just a 4-yard gain. . . . Recorded five tackles and looks as if he can be a reliable backup on the inside. (Follow on Twitter @LarryGrant59)
55-Ahmad Brooks: Started at LOLB, and played as well as anyone on the team's defense. . . . He came from the back side to trip up QB Drew Brees as he was throwing to force an incompletion on a third-down pass to end first series. . . . Got good pressure from the outside against RT Jon Stinchcomb to force Daniel to run. . . . Got a hit on Daniel as he was throwing to force a second-quarter incompletion.
56-Scott McKillop: Coming off major left knee injury from a year ago, he has missed more than a week of practice time. He did not make the trip to New Orleans. (Follow on Twitter @smckillop56)
57-Keaton Kristick: Replaced Bowman at ILB late in the first half, and was credited with two tackles on defense and one more on special teams. . . Opened the second half with a tackle of WR Joseph Morgan for a 3-yard loss on a reverse. (Follow on Twitter @KKRISTICK32)
58-Alex Joseph: Entered game at ILB at the start of the fourth quarter. . . . He did not get credited with any tackles. . . . Probably should've taken a deeper drop in his zone to make it a more difficult throw for Daniel on a 23-yard pass to WR Andy Tanner in the fourth quarter.
59-Thaddeus Gibson: Did not see any action on defense.
96-Antwan Applewhite: He was on the first punt-return unit, and was called for an illegal block above the waist. . . . Played defense at LOLB, entering the game in the third quarter. . . . Allowed RB Joique Bell to get outside of him for an 8-yard gain in the third quarter. . . . Did a much better job to string out Mark Ingram on a failed fourth-down run.
98-Parys Haralson: Started at ROLB and was credited with two tackles. He played the first three Saints possessions. and made a stop of RB Darren Sproles for a 1-yard loss. . . . Re-entered the game late in the first half at LOLB, replacing Brooks. He even played the first four snaps of the second half when all the other 49ers defensive starters had already been removed from the game.
99-Aldon Smith: Entered the game at ROLB for the fourth series of the game. He had a solid debut with five tackles, a sack and was credited with a forced fumble, too. . . . Shrugged off attempted block of LT Charles Brown to stop Ingram for a 1-yard loss. . . . Set the edge on a reverse, allowing Kristick drop WR Joseph Morgan for a 3-yard loss. . . . Took advantage of a mismatch against FB Korey Hall to trip up QB Chase Daniel for a 6-yard sack. Daniel fumbled as he was falling to the ground. (Follow on Twitter @AldonSmithJETS)Defensive backs (17)
20-Madieu Williams: Started at FS and played the entire first half. He had deep coverage on WR Robert Meachem, as he misjudged Daniel's throw but he still managed to get his fingertips on the ball to break up the pass. He also added one tackle.
22-Carlos Rogers: He started at LCB, and had a very quiet game with no action coming to his side.
23-Taylor Mays: He played exclusively on special teams in the first half. He entered at FS in place of Madieu Williams and played all but the final series second half on defense. . . . He did not have the kind of game that would change the coaches' opinion of him one way or the other. . . He recorded two tackles. Came flying in to trip up Bell after an 8-yard gain. . . . And stepped up take down Tanner after 23-yard reception.
25-Tarell Brown: Has not practiced since Aug. 5 with undisclosed injury. Did not make trip to New Orleans.
26-Tramaine Brock: Started at RCB and played the first three quarters. . . He gave WR Robert Meachem the inside on a deep route, 35 yards down the field, as it appeared he was expecting safety help. But Meachem could not hold onto Brees' throw. . . The only play he gave up in coverage was a 11-yard pass to WR Courtney Roby in the third quarter. . . . Came back a couple plays later to have good coverage on a two-man rush against Morgan. (Follow on Twitter @T26Brock)
27-C.J. Spillman: Replaced Donte Whitner at SS in the middle of the second quarter, and he recorded five tackles . . . . Made hit on WR Courtney Roby near sideline after 18-yard completion late in first half. . . . WR Montez Billings caught a crossing route in his section of the field for a 25-yard gain. . . . Missed tackle on Mark Ingram, who eluded Spillman's low tackle attempt for a 14-yard TD run up the middle. (Follow on Twitter @CJSPILLMAN27)
28-Curtis Taylor: He played special teams in the first half but did not get onto the field to play defense until the fourth quarter. He was not credited with any tackles.
29-Chris Culliver: Saw action on the first series as the third CB. Then, replaced Rogers in the second quarter and played all but the final defensive series of the game. . . Made nice tackle of Mark Ingram in run support for a 3-yard gain late in first half. . . He recorded three tackles and did not surrender any yardage in coverage. (Follow on Twitter @Cullyinthehouse)
30-Reggie Smith: Underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Monday. He did not make trip to New Orleans. (Follow on Twitter @superreg30)
31-Donte Whitner: Started at SS and made a play to break up Brees' third-down pass for TE Jimmy Graham to end second series. . . . Had good coverage down the field on Graham on a third-down incompletion at end of first quarter. (Follow on Twitter @DonteWhitner)
32-Corey Nelms: Entered the game at LCB with five minutes remaining, and did not get involved in any of the action.
33-Phillip Davis: Got into the game at RCB for the final four plays after the two-minute warning.
35-Phillip Adams: Entered as the third CB in the second quarter after Rogers was removed from the game. . . . Broke up a third-down pass intended for Billings on a third-down play early in second half. . . . Broke up another pass intended for Tanner in the fourth quarter, when he took over at RCB. (Follow on Twitter @phil_adams35)
36-Shawntae Spencer: Sustained left hamstring strain in practice July 31 and has not practiced since. He did not make trip to New Orleans.
38-Dashon Goldson: He traveled to New Orleans but did not suit up for the game after taking part in just one practice since signing a one-year contract this week. (Follow on Twitter @thehawk38)
40-Chris Maragos: Replaced Taylor Mays at FS in the three minutes. He was credited with one tackle. (Follow on Twitter @ChrisMaragos)
41-Curtis Holcomb: Placed on injured reserve after sustaining ruptured left Achilles on July 28. He does not count against roster limit. (Follow on Twitter @C_Holcomb24)
43-Colin Jones: He did not see any action on defense, but showed on special teams what made him a sixth-round pick. . . Called the signals on the punt coverage unit from the fullback position and was always the first player down the field. However, he had a difficult time making the tackle once he got down there. . . . He had the first and best chance to get Morgan on a 78-yard punt return for a TD. . . . Credited with one special-teams tackle.
45-Anthony West: Saw action late in the game as an extra defensive back, and had one tackle.Specialists (4)
2-David Akers: He nailed a 60-yarder in warmups, and then knocked one through from 59 yards late in the first half. The longest kick Akers has ever made in a regular-season game was 57 yards in 2003. (Follow on Twitter @DavidAkers2)
4-Andy Lee: He was a busy man with nine punts, averaging 46.6 yards. His net average was just 31.6 because of the 78-yard punt return for a touchdown.
9-Fabrizio Scaccia: He had two kickoffs, including an onside kick at the end of the first half. He opened the second half with a kickoff 8 yards deep into the end zone for a touchback.
86-Brian Jennings: He handled all the snapping duties on punts, as well as the one field-goal attempt. . . . Was called for a holding penalty on a punt. (Follow on Twitter @Jennings141)-Rookies

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

The 49ers on Monday extended one-year qualifying offers to nose tackle Mike Purcell and linebacker Carl Bradford as exclusive-rights free agents.

Purcell appeared in 15 games last season. He started the first five games of the season at nose tackle and was a reserve for the remainder of the season. Originally signed in 2013 as an undrafted rookie from Wyoming, Purcell has appeared in 25 games over the past three seasons.

The 49ers claimed Bradford off waivers in December from the Green Bay Packers. He appeared in the final two games of the season with the 49ers and was credited with two tackles.

Bradford entered the NFL out of Arizona State as a fourth-round pick of the Packers in 2014. After being inactive for every game as a rookie, Bradford was among Green Bay’s final cuts in 2015. He spent the season on the practice squad.

He appeared in four games for the Packers last year. The 49ers claimed him after he was waived in December.

Exclusive rights free agents are player who have fewer than three years of NFL service who have no outside negotiating power if a team extends a qualifying offer.

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

The 49ers’ new regime heads to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week with the first major wave of offseason activity set to kick off.

Already, the 49ers have made roster improvements. And there figure to be plenty of activity ahead in the coming weeks.

Here are some questions submitted by readers on Facebook for this edition of 49ers Mailbag:

Do you see the 49ers cutting ties with larger contracts like Bethea, Torrey Smith and Ahmad Brooks?‬ (Blair Wilkins)
The 49ers have approximately $75 million in space under the salary cap – and that’s before any adjustment of Colin Kaepernick’s contract. So it’s not as if the organization needs to create cap room.

Any decision made to part ways with veteran players will be made solely on how that player fits into what the 49ers envision on the field.

And that’s what general manager John Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff are doing now. They are studying the video from last season to determine which players fit their ideals.

Safety Antoine Bethea is scheduled to earn $5.75 million. Bethea, 32, enters the final year of his contract. There is no question he is everything the 49ers want in a player off the field. If one of the younger guys is not better than Bethea, there is no reason to get rid of him.

Brooks is on the books to earn $5.3 million in 2017. That’s not a huge amount for a starting outside linebacker or defensive end – whichever spot he might fit best. The 49ers must look to upgrade their pass rush. Brooks turns 33 next month. He’s good for six sacks a season. Again, it’s not as if the 49ers can’t afford him. And, as of now, it’s not as if the 49ers have anyone better.

Smith is scheduled to earn $8 million. He has been vastly underutilized in his two seasons since signing with the 49ers. He’s the most interesting case of the high-priced veterans.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense is predicated on using the running game to set up the play-action shot down the field. Smith is limited. He’s not a possession receiver. He’s not going to make plays over the middle. He is an outside receiver whose contributions come in the vertical passing game. But that’s what Shanahan wants.

If Smith is paired with a strong tight end, a running back who catch the ball out of the backfield, a slot receiver with short-area quickness to get open underneath, a very good receiver on the other side and an accurate quarterback who can throw the deep ball, there should be a role for Smith in the 49ers’ offense.

Will the 49ers continue to be aggressive pursuing free agents this offseason? If so, what positions?‬ (Bradley Lodge)
The 49ers have zeroed in on two veteran free agents and they signed them both.

The organization has already spent more money than it did all of last offseason on veteran free agency with the four-year, $16 million deal to sign defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, whom the Miami Dolphins recently released.

Nickel back K’Waun Williams has a history with 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley. The 49ers did not have to make much of a financial investment to sign him.

The 49ers will definitely go after a veteran quarterback or two in free agency or via trade. Pass rusher, inside linebacker and wide receiver are other positions the 49ers can be expected to look during free agency.

The opening of the new league year – when free-agent signings and trades can occur – is March 9. The draft is seven weeks later.

The 49ers must fill as many of their needs with smart deals that fit into the long-term plan with veteran acquisitions. Then, the draft is about taking the best players on their board when it’s time to select. Teams that reach for need generally strike out.

What are the chances of drafting a QB with first pick and playing them behind a Kap / Cousins until they're ready to become starter?‬ (Hillory Broussard)
If Colin Kaepernick returns, it will not be as a no-questions-asked starter. Just read what Lynch said on KNBR this week about the team’s needs:

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely. And we’re committed to doing that.”

That statement can easily be interpreted that Lynch does not believe the 49ers had a starting-caliber quarterback on the roster last season.

But if the 49ers were to go out and swing a trade for Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s going to take a big commitment – in terms of draft picks and a suitable new contract. Then, the 49ers would have that player.

Cousins or Garoppolo would unquestionably fill the 49ers’ need at quarterback for 2017 and beyond -- at least in the minds of the 49ers' new decision-makers. There would be no reason for the 49ers to then draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick – if the 49ers even had the No. 2 overall pick at that point.